Free Thanksgiving meal held at Milford Central Academy

Thanksgiving feast guests enjoy a hot meal Tuesday night at Milford Central Academy. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonick)

MILFORD — Thanksgiving dinner isn’t until Thursday night for most families, but that didn’t stop volunteers from driving from up to 45 minutes away Tuesday evening just to ensure some families in Milford received a hot meal for the holiday.

Stephanie Dukes, behavior interventionist at Milford Central Academy, and Kim Cole, MCA nurse, have helped organize the annual dinner hosted by Gospel Club for four years now.

“This is a great thing that Ms. Dukes and the Milford School District is doing,” said Dawn Carey, standing in front of tables of families in the cafeteria waiting for a hot meal with all the trimmings Thanksgiving chefs can offer.

They were joined by basketball players from both Milford Central Academy and a school in Maryland who were at the facility for an evening game. Members of the school’s student council were also present to volunteer, along with a baseball team from the Camden-Wyoming area called the Camden Crushers.

Deacon Chris Miller-Marcin of St. Peter’s Church in Lewes and Heart and Soul Ministry gives a $10,000 check to Stephanie Dukes during the Thanksgiving dinner Tuesday night. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik)

“I’ve done this for the last four years with Stephanie. I had a ministry called Heart and Soul Ministry and when I had no food for my ministry, Stephanie helped me for my summer ministry and, in turn, we help Stephanie with her ministry. So, we’ve been partnering together for four years,” Deacon Chris Miller-Marcin of St. Peter’s Church in Lewes said before dinner was served.

With other volunteers on hand from her church, she used the opportunity to present Ms. Dukes with a $10,000 check from her ministry to help with a building owned by Ms. Dukes that caught fire in October.

Despite the bad news about the fire, Ms. Dukes used that opportunity to share her ministry work with her insurance adjuster, Della Parenteau.

Tracey Clark, Josiah Showers and Darien Nabaa share a photo together at the Thanksgiving event. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik)

“I met Ms. Dukes and she was telling me about this event and everything that she does and I just wanted to be a part of it. We’re honored to be here,” Ms. Parenteau said, who, in turn, shared the news of the ministry’s needs with the Camden Crushers. “They brought clothes, sweaters, coats and whatever they could to help. We’re teaching them good things.”

Each group was praised for its time and dedication to the free event, which not only included a full Thanksgiving meal, but boxes of food to take home, clothing items and other donations. Many of those in attendance also offered kind words for Ms. Dukes and Ms. Cole who work on this event and other outreach opportunities throughout the year.

MCA Principal Gary Zoll added while hugging Ms. Dukes, “I want to take zero credit for this because Ms. Dukes and Ms. Cole put everything on. So, I want everybody to give this lady right here a big round of applause. This is my second year at Milford Central Academy, and she impresses me everyday with her big heart and how she helps the students.”

Owen Justiniano of the Camden Crushers helps distribute boxes of food during the Thanksgiving feast in Milford. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik)

Superintendent Kevin Dickerson was also on hand. He told the crowd, “We have wonderful students here in the Milford School District. We’re very thankful to our students across the district and also our neighboring districts, as well. We’re very grateful for the quality of students we have across the state and particularly here in Milford. Also, our families, very proud of our families and staff here, a very supportive community that works together here, especially during the holidays, we’re very thankful for that. On behalf of the Milford School District, we wish everybody here a very Happy Thanksgiving.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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